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At Last, a Spooky as Hell Kids’ Movie

“Where the Wild Things Are,” not your typical “Sleeping Beauty” or even “Shrek” — but why did it take so long?


Good news for Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze fans — “Where the Wild Things Are,” a children’s classic (to some) is at long last ready for its close-up on the big screen.
Why did this take so long?
Granted, “Where the Wild Things Are” is not Disney-lite and is spooky as hell. But most kids love it — and so do grown-up kids with a skewed vision of adulthood and parenting.
Jonze, who directed the outstanding original “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation,” seems a perfect fit for this fantasy tale about a disobedient child who travels magically to a world of fellow wild creatures, wreaking havoc in their wake.
With three Oscar nominations for “Being John Malkovich” (including Best Director), this Hollywood outsider garnered even more respect when “Adaptation” scored four more nominations and one win (Chris Cooper’s supporting actor). So Jonze took a gamble with Sendak’s crazy world of monsters and an ornery kid who destroy things and pitch stuff at one another.
Not your typical “Sleeping Beauty” or even “Shrek.” But a wildly original kids’ movie (made for adults, too) with a head-scratching “plot” and sloppy colors.
But true to Sendak’s vision and much to the delight of the book’s fans, the movie proffers no morality tale nor predictable tidy endings. The kid isn’t very articulate or pleasant, nor are the assorted creatures, much to the delight of those turned off by the treacle that passes as kids’ movies these days.
There’s cross-talk, ambiguous dialogue and a decidedly un-Hollywood ending. Just like real life! Kids can be irritating and annoying little rug-rats and so-called adults can be narcissistic and oblivious to their charge’s emotional needs.
Sendak, now 81, penned his stand-out book when he was 34. He wrote of what he knew — depression and poverty, and converted that sensibility into stunning children’s tomes. But after disappointing dealings with both Universal and Warner Brothers, it seemed as though this tale was toast.
Agreeing finally to Warner Bros.’ “suggestions,” the movie was green-lit for real. With merchandising already in place (skateboards, a special Ugg boot, T-shirts and puppets) and a Jonze-directed short documentary (HBO-bound) will prime the public about this surreally wonderful tale. Ten years after Jonze put “Wild Things” on his front burner, the movie will finally open on Oct. 16.
I know of at least two kids and two parents who will pre-order tickets          


Naomi Serviss has covered Broadway, celebrities, lavish resorts and high-end spas. Based in New York City, she's still hooked on Hollywood.